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Hernandez wants greater transparency, more jobs within city limits

Joe Hernandez

Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a series highlighting Woodbury mayoral candidates. Read the other Q&As here

Joe Hernandez

  • Age: 35
  • Occupation: Researcher at 3M
  • Education: PhD Mechanical Engineering — Engineering Mechanics
  • Family: Married with six children
  • Civic involvement: Vice president of Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) Parent Advisory Council, adjunct faculty at Dunwoody College of Technology

Why should residents vote for you?

I present a vision of Woodbury that focuses on growth for all citizens and not special interests. I will work to increase our quality of life: putting families first, bringing high paying industrial jobs that will simultaneously increase the tax base for School District 833 and investing in clean water. Together we will invest in the future by inviting more industry to Woodbury, developing a business incubator and maintaining the high quality of life residents currently enjoy.

What's the biggest issue facing Woodbury?

Woodbury has a large and skilled workforce, but too few jobs are located within the city. Woodbury's population is roughly 70,000 people, but there are just 17,000 jobs. The existing 2040 plan for the city, which has yet to be ratified, will reduce the zoning allocated to "Places to Work" by 20 percent. The city should expand job opportunities not eliminate them. Woodbury should be an employment destination. I envision Woodbury as the technology epicenter of the East Metro, with increased employment opportunities for residents and businesses.

What could current city leadership be doing better?

Transparency. The public has a right, and an obligation, to hold the city accountable for decisions it makes on behalf of residents. If the general public doesn't have access to information, they are deprived of this responsibility and the government becomes authoritarian. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan was crafted without public input and has been sheltered from public scrutiny.

The Metropolitan Council expects Woodbury to add 20,000 residents by 2040. The city's 2040 Comprehensive Plan addresses this. What is your opinion of the plan and how will you begin to implement it?

The plan fails to address the needs of Woodbury while heavily deviating from the currently enacted comprehensive plan. Members of the comprehensive plan task force turned a blind eye to the future problems facing Woodbury. I plan to fix this. The 2040 plan reduces the "Places to Work" zoning by 311 acres (half a square mile), a 20 percent decrease from the existing plan. New industrial development is located in School District 834 — industrial property taxes paid in Woodbury will go to Stillwater's schools, not District 833. "Affordable housing" is being neglected, more land (8.37 percent) is devoted to "Rural Estate" than the combined development of both medium (1.53 percent) and high (1.77 percent) density housing. There is also little acknowledgement of our aging population — no senior center, no transportation accessibility.

Hannah Black

Hannah Black is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism interested in the intersection of politics and the everyday lives of citizens. Outside of reporting, she enjoys running, going to museums and concerts, and trying new coffee shops and breweries. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her dog, Wendell.

(651) 301-7817